30 August 2010

30 August - Saint Fiacre; herbal receipts

This is the feast day of Saint Fiacre, a 7th century Irish monk, whose holiness and skills in healing made him so popular, that he had to flee Ireland for France in order to find the desired isolation for his studies.

He established his hermitage near Breuil, with an oratory and a hospice, and devoted his days to prayers and his gardens: vegetables and fruits for feeding the poor, herbs and flowers for curing and cheering the sick.

He is the patron of gardeners, herbalists, and cab drivers, and is invoked against a whole host of really nasty ailments -  hemorrhoids, syphilis and venereal disease in general, fistula, and piles.  You can see where the concentration is here.

Let's concentrate on the gardens, which hopefully are still producing.  Check online or at garden shops for statues of Saint Fiacre, which will keep company in your garden very nicely.


Herbs and flowers have been used for centuries to heal and comfort the ill and the ill-tempered.  Below is a 'receipt' (as 'recipe' was sometimes spelled) for a cordial which "is good to drive out any Infection from the heart, and to comfort the Spirits", taken from a 17th century book called

Stored with all manner of RARE RECEIPTS
For Preserving, Candying and Cookery.
Very Pleasant and Beneficial to all Ingenious Persons of the FEMALE SEX.
The Second EDITION.
LONDON. Printed for Richard Lowndes at the White Lion in Duck-Lane, near West-Smithfield, 1672." 

With four quarts of white wine, it would certainly comfort my spirits.

Unfortunately, not all of the nostrums sound good.  Here is a receipt for sufferers of consumption: 
Yep.  The five quarts of Wine and two quarts of Ale aside, I think if I was consumptive, I'd blame it on vampires and start wearing a necklace of garlic bulbs.  A Peck of smashed Snails (and their Shells) and a Pint of Earth-worms just aren't my cup of cordial.